Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Light Switch Lessons: How the Simple Act of Turning it Off Can Shed Light On It All

One of the most fun aspects of parenting is watching your child relish in the simple things of life.

Today my son discovered light switches.

We spent upwards of ten minutes going from room to room turning the lights on and off (don't tell my husband as he is the electric bill gestapo).

Each successful flip would result in fits of laughter and an accomplished smile that only conquering a new frontier can generate. As I stood there watching his own proverbial light bulb go on, I couldn't help but reflect on the way he has opened up my own eyes to the true light of life.

Before my son came along I was an overachiever. A perfectionist. A do-it-all-or-don't-bother-playing-the-game type of girl.

From pageants to acting and getting married at 24, I went on to compete in fitness competitions and move to three different states. I was working full time while I recorded and promoted an album. I got a book published and found it amazing that I still found a crumpled sliver of time to limp my way through some kind of threadbare prayer life and spotty church attendance.

In truth, I was exhausted. In my mind, I was accomplished.

I remember feeling as if I was running down the dawn. If there were hours left in a day I needed to be somebody. Do something of note. Burn off some calories. Make another salad. Drink another glass of water. Dream about French fires. Indulge in a sweet potato. Dream of sleeping in, but get to work early- again. Write a song. Write a paragraph. Make a dollar. Spend a dollar.

And then as if there was a electric surge that blew a breaker. It went dark.

The world became quiet. I relapsed into a cocoon of hibernation. I found out I was pregnant.

From the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test it was if my heart started beating at an entirely different rate. I noticed sunsets. I took long leisurely naps. I spent time really praying about this huge responsibility. I stopped promoting myself and I started entertaining the idea of what it would like to divide myself.

Being pregnant and being a mom pose two entirely different states of being. One is preparation, the other is segregation. While it may not be popular, I don't believe in super moms. I don't believe you can do it all. You can do a lot- some more than others, but trying to do it all is just an on-ramp to burning out.

In all honesty, I still struggle with turning it off. I still have this gold-medal-or-bust attitude about me- but instead of trying to break Billboards Top 100 I am trying to break my sons habit of throwing his dinner all over the wall. For some women they can balance motherhood and work beautifully. I realized very quickly that I can only whole-heartedly commit myself to one thing at a time. Its the way I am wired.

This was proven to be true as I spent years spinning my wheels in the mire of getting nowhere in a hurry. Like Josh Billings said, Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.

That has always been my problem. I have been nothing like postage stamp or a light switch.

Before baby, I would constantly flicker one way or the other making it impossible to see where I was going. But now, I have decided to shut it all down for a time. I am going to stick to one thing. Being a mom. No distractions. No illusions. No pause button or dimmer switch. I am going to attempt to be fully on; all the time. Well, not all the time- everyone needs a date night and that odd weekend away here and there.

My point is this. For a woman who never wanted to slow down, motherhood has forced my hand. The beauty of my newfound on-and-off switch is that I never realized how rewarding it can be to turn off the noise of my own ego and turn on the light of letting go.

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